Few remnants remain of the deep forests that characterized the pre-settlement era in southeastern Wisconsin. Kurtz Woods is one of them; it hosts more than 82 species of trees and spring ephemerals. This thirty-one acre forest is dominated by sugar maple and American beech. White ash, basswood, and black cherry constitute a younger set of trees that spread east and west from the center of the preserve. The appearance of pole-size trees along the southeast boundary, evidence of logging in the 1930’s, and an old granite quarry along the west edge, are the only reminders of earlier land use and the last signs of disturbance here.
An assortment of spring wildflowers shares the forest floor with shrubs and young trees. These include hepatica, bloodroot, wild leek, and the aptly named spring beauty. Kurtz Woods is designated as a State Natural Area because of this diversity and the quality of the intact forest. Unfortunately, the small site is susceptible to invasion by exotic species. As a result, OWLT seeks to maintain the integrity of the State Natural Area by aggressively removing invasive species and restoring the southern portion of the forest to its pre-settlement state.
The terrain of Kurtz Woods is lightly rolling, as a sandy moraine runs through it. Kettle depressions and glacial boulders can be seen throughout the preserve. Cultivated fields and pastures once surrounded the forest. Today, subdivisions and an old quarry surround this remnant forest.
South of Cedar Sauk Road, in the Cedar Sauk Meadows subdivision